Monday, July 19, 2010

Vietnam to develop youth baseball: coach

Taipei, July 17 (CNA) Vietnam, where most children did not know what baseball was until two years ago, is keen to develop its youth baseball and use the sport as a tool to foster good relationships with other countries in the world, a Vietnamese youth baseball team's coach said Saturday.
"Baseball is new in Vietnam with only two years of history... but we hope to establish a senior national team to represent the country in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, " said Team Vietnam's American manager Thomas Treutler, at a press conference held on the sidelines of the Pony Baseball 2010 Asia-Pacific zone Bronco Tournament.
Pony Baseball is a U.S.-based, non-profit organization which is devoted to youth baseball and organizes tournaments for different age groups, including Pinto for players eight and-under, Mustang for players 10 and-under, Bronco for players 12 and-under, Pony for players 14 and-under, Colt for players 16 and-under and Palomino for players 19 and under.
Treutler, who has lived in soccer-crazy Vietnam for 18 years, said he started a weekly youth baseball program with his wife two years ago in Hanoi. Before long, children became interested in the sport and joined the program, which started out with six children and now has more than 70.
However, they had to practice on a soccer field because there was not a baseball field in Vietnam.
"And the field is rocky so the kids couldn't slide, " said Treutler, whose son Ben Nguyen Treutler is also on the team.
The trip to Taiwan, Treutler and the Vietnamese children's first, is like a dream come true, he said, adding that the children were amazed at the electric scoreboard, the dugout and the beautiful field after visiting the venue Youth Park Baseball Stadium Saturday.
"They could only see those things on the ESPN. Now they can play in a real ball park, " he said.
The Vietnamese government has shown its interest in supporting the development of baseball, said Treutler, who is now head of Pony Baseball Vietnam. His wife, who is Vietnamese, now heads the Vietnamese Baseball Association.
"We will try to build a baseball field in two years. And we will come back to this tournament every year. Hopefully, we will field a team for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, " he said.
With Taiwan's success in baseball and many direct flights between Taiwan and Hanoi, Taiwanese baseball coaches are welcomed to conduct clinics and provide help with Vietnam's development, Treutler said.
Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Philippines are participating in the seven-team tournament, which will be held from July 18-22 in the Youth Park Baseball Stadium in Taipei. The winner of the tourney will represent the Asia-Pacific zone in the World Series from Aug. 5-12 in Monterey, California.
Treutler and a coach from the Philippines both observed that Taiwan and Japan are favorites to win the tournament. (By Chris Wang) enditem/cs
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